This week, to continue LRANY’s video series, we bring you a video on ‘joint and several’ liability. The legal doctrine of joint and several liability is a theory which permits a plaintiff to recover damages from multiple defendants collectively, or from each defendant individually. Under this doctrine, a defendant who is only 1% responsible can be forced to pay 100% of the damages. This creates strong incentives to sue entities with “deep pockets,” such as like schools, businesses and municipalities , in the hopes of extracting a settlement.
Municipalities are often roped into lawsuits because of this joint and several . As a recent study from the University at Albany shows, our municipalities pay over a billion dollars in lawsuits costs every year.
LRANY supports the more equitable standard of “fair share” liability, in which liability is proportional to fault. By enacting Fair Share Liability, New York would ensure that only those that are a majority responsible would pay the full judgment, limiting lawsuit abuse against our municipalities.